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Our work in Scotland

Scottish Parliament

Musculoskeletal conditions are the leading cause of long-standing illness in Scotland. For example, roughly 700,000 people are living with osteoarthritis alone. We’re working hard to raise awareness of musculoskeletal conditions and to ensure that people have access to the services they need, wherever they live in Scotland.

Working with Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs)

We work closely with MSPs across all parties in Scotland to ensure that people with arthritis are represented in the Scottish Parliament.  We have a number of Arthritis Champions in Holyrood and we’ve published a Scottish manifesto which sets out actions politicians can take to improve outcomes for people with musculoskeletal conditions.

Musculoskeletal (MSK) calculator data

Our MSK-Calculator provides prevalence data estimates for osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip and knee, back pain and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for local authorities and Health Boards in Scotland.

Musculoskeletal conditions and the NHS In Scotland

Arthritis Research UK believes musculoskeletal conditions should be a health priority for the Scottish Government, health boards and Integration Authorities.

We recommend:

  • Integration Authorities should ensure that their strategic commissioning plans capture the burden of, and are inclusive of, people with musculoskeletal conditions. They should report their spend on musculoskeletal health and care services, as well as collect data about musculoskeletal health using an indicator such as the Musculoskeletal Health Questionnaire (MSK-HQ).
  • The Scottish Government should make musculoskeletal conditions a health priority in future national strategies and recognise the impact that pain and functional limitations have on the quality of life of many people, of all ages and all socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • The Scottish Government should ensure that additional healthcare funding is allocated to musculoskeletal health and care services at least in proportion to the current programme budget spend.

For further information and a full list of recommendations download our policy position independently reviewed by experts in Scottish health policy

Musculoskeletal conditions and Public Health in Scotland

Arthritis Research believes musculoskeletal conditions must become a public health priority in Scotland. We recommend:

  • The Scottish Government, NHS Scotland and the new Integration Authorities should put people with musculoskeletal conditions at the heart of their public health activities.
  • The Scottish Government should maintain or increase public health spend in real terms and report both public health spend and spend on public health services relating to musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Musculoskeletal health should be included as a public health priority in any forthcoming public health strategy

For further information about our public health work and a full list of recommendations download our policy position independently reviewed by experts in Scottish health policy

Musculoskeletal conditions and Physical Activity in Scotland

Improving levels of physical activity is integral to supporting people to maintain and improve their musculoskeletal health. We recommend that:

  • The Scottish Government should make physical activity a core part of the public health agenda and recognise the barriers that people with musculoskeletal conditions may face in participating in physical activity.
  • The Scottish Government should work with relevant professional bodies to support healthcare and other professionals with the appropriate training needed to promote physical activity so that individuals meet and/or exceed government guidelines on recommended levels of physical activity. This includes training on the provision of personalised advice for people with musculoskeletal conditions that takes into account differing levels of ability and accessibility issues.
  • The Scottish Government should maintain or increase public health spend on physical activity in real terms so that funding is available for physical activity programmes, particularly those evidence-based programmes designed specifically for individuals with musculoskeletal conditions

 For further information about our work on physical activity and a full list of recommendations please download our policy position

For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.